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Athanasia: The Great Insurrection

By ThomasCoutouzis All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Blurb

This story first appeared in the "Echo of Another World" contest where it won third place. I have done some major revisions since then. Here is an 8 chapter excerpt of the completed work that has been tempered through the fires of criticism.

Salem Portus

In the quarters of Mardok, leader of the Adelphos, a surreptitious meeting was starting to take place. A man with dark shoulder length hair entered the balcony but did not make eye contact with Mardok who was leaning and looking off into the distance on the railing of his balcony. The man walked to the railing of the balcony and looked down at the crowds of people. Mardok looked down from the balcony at all the people walking the streets as if he were a perched eagle ready to pounce on his unknowing prey. He smirked because the people were not aware of the secrets he was hiding. He looked over to the man with him on the balcony and said, “Arsinian, where do things stand?”

Arsinian smiled as he continued looking off into the distance and said, “Everything is ready. They will never know what has overtaken them.”

Arsinian and Mardok had some similar features as both were of olive complexion and had dark eyes. Mardok was bald and clean shaven, while Arsinian’s face looked like it had not seen a blade in many days. Mardok looked around at some of the nearby balconies and seeing no one close he said, “Excellent work, my brother. Too long have we served an inferior race and bowed to men that are lesser than we! The time for my reign is at hand!”

Both turned and walked back into Mardok’s royal quarters which were decorated with marble floors, fine linens and burgundy draperies as well as many solid gold ornaments and statues that he brought back as spoils from war. His quarters were very large potentially housing 10 families underneath its roof. On the walls hung portraits of the kings that he had protected since his creation in order from the most recent to the first. As they passed by the portraits the oldest ones looked somewhat faded because of time but others were without blemish. As they came closer to the portrait of King Argos one could notice what looked like dagger strikes in the more recent king’s faces. Mardok scowled at the paintings as he passed them as if they reminded him of some former enemy.

The two then sat down at a large oak table where Mardok had intricate plans strewn all over its top. Mardok asked, “All but six Adelphos are committed to this and have pledged their loyalty to me?”

Arsinian replied, “Yes, my lord. Seventy eight of the eighty four have pledged their allegiance to you.”

At that moment a bookcase in the room by the table creaked open and a hooded man wearing a black cloak entered the room. Mardok said, “Perfect timing, Romus. We were just reviewing the final plans. Is everything in place with the royal guard?”

Romus remained cloaked as he sat down and replied, “Everything is ready. The captain of the guard and my lieutenants are prepared and know what to say and how to react when the accusations take place.”

Romus then turned to Mardok and said, “What will you do with Victus and Spiros?”

Mardok grinned before responding, “You will label Spiros as a fellow conspirator. Arsinian will eliminate Victus.”

Romus asked, “I thought the Adelphos could not be killed? I know that those in your order do not age, and I have seen them gravely wounded in battle but continue to live, so how will this sword complete the task at hand?”

Arsinian’s nostrils flared as he turned to Romus and said, “You fool!” He then drew his sword and put it on the table in front of Romus. “This is a sword of Helios! These are no ordinary swords as they were individually crafted by Sophos with drops from the sun. Each of the Adelphos carry one of these swords as do the 21 kings. They are the most lethal swords in existence as they can cut through metal and stone as if it were a loaf of bread.”

Arsinian picked up his sword from the table and demonstrated its power as he ran it through a three foot stone wall on the other side of the table. He then withdrew his sword from the wall and put it on the table in front of Romus and said, “These are the only things in creation that can kill an Adelphos.”

Beads of sweat began to form on Romus’ face and his hands began to tremble. “My lords, it has never been tested before on one of your kind so how can you be absolutely sure?

Mardok gnashed his teeth and pounded the table with his fist. “It will do as Arsinian has told you!”

Mardok then looked up at Arsinian, “Keep a careful eye on Romus as my confidence in his abilities has faded because of his frail human disposition. Make sure that Victus dies and that Spiros is implicated as I no longer trust this vapor to carry out the task.”

Romus replied, “Please forgive me, Mardok, I desire for you to be king more than any other. If this plan doesn’t work than I and the other mortal men involved will be hung from the gallows for treason.”

Mardok responded, “This plan will work, Romus, and you will be rewarded for your faithfulness to me.” Mardok unsheathed his sword and pointed it at Romus and said, “Now, bow down to me as you would bow before King Argos. Show me your allegiance!”

Beads of sweat began pouring down the face of Romus as he fell to his knees and lay prostrate before Mardok. Mardok smiled, “Rise, faithful servant.”

Romus wiped the sweat from his brow with the sleeve on his left arm and took a seat at the table again. “What of the heirs to the throne of Portus? How do you intend to remove them as well as the mighty Argos?” exclaimed Romus.

Mardok smiled, “You leave that to me as it is of no importance to you. The only people that know are those that are directly involved, and that is how it will remain. I fear that if too many of those involved know, that a tongue may slip and destroy a plan that has taken 2000 years to concoct.”

A tiny creak was heard in the background. Mardok and Arsinian immediately turned and looked behind them and saw the eye of a man peering at them from behind the open front door. The eye quickly disappeared as soon as it was spotted. Romus did not have the physical abilities or discernment of the Adelphos, but could tell that something had gotten their attention, so he asked, “What’s wrong?”

Mardok yelled, “Catch him, Arsinian! He has overheard our plan!”

Arsinian jumped out of his chair and quickly made his way out the door. Romus asked, “What is happening, Mardok?”

Mardok said, “You must leave now! Take the secret passage out and let no one see you, Romus!”

Romus arose quickly, knocking his chair down as he made his way to the passage behind the bookcase. Meanwhile, Mardok ran towards the balcony which was several stories from the ground and jumped on the railing. He looked down to the ground to see if anyone was beneath him. Seeing no one, he jumped. Mardok landed on the ground with both feet, unsheathed his sword and then ran with all the speed he could conjure towards the entrance to the complex.

Arsinian was about 25 yards behind the man he was chasing down the hallway. He thought to himself, “Only a messenger of the king could run this quickly.” The messenger approached the stairwell and chose to run up the stairs without breaking his stride. As he made his way up he looked down and saw Arsinian closing in on him. He gasped, gritted his teeth and ran like wild game fleeing from a hungry predator. Arsinian taunted the messenger, “You can’t escape me, for I have already consumed your mind with terror. Here I come!”

The messenger made his way up to the roof and then fell as he tripped over the last step. Arsinian smiled and reached out and grabbed part of messenger’s tunic as he stood back up. The messenger gasped again, pulled out his dagger and sliced the peace of cloth Arsinian held, freeing him from his enemy’s clutches. Arsinian laughed and said, “You cannot escape me mortal. You are trapped, and I am hungry for your life.”

Meanwhile, Mardok made his way to the entrance. He looked all around. He turned and asked a food vendor that was located by the entrance, “Did you see a man come running out of the entrance to this complex?”

The vendor replied, “No, my lord. I have not seen any man.”

The messenger ran hastily to the eastern edge of the building overlooking the street. He had no place to go, so he ran to the northern edge. There he saw a building beneath him that was around a 10 foot drop. He looked behind him. Arsinian was running nearer. He took several steps back, ran, and then jumped off the roof. Mardok saw him fly to the next building. He waited to see if Arsinian was behind him. A few moments later he saw Arsinian make the jump down to the next building. Mardok ran looking up to the next roof attempting to track the man. As he took a quick glance ahead he saw that the messenger would not be able to jump to the next building. It was three stories taller and the alley between them was 30 feet wide.

Arsinian was closing in on the messenger as the roof of the building was about to run out. He knew that he had the messenger when he saw that the next building was much taller, so Arsinian then slowed down and began to walk. He crowed, “There is no place to go! Come, taste the steel of my sword!” The messenger did not even turn around when he heard Arsinian, but rather grunted, jumped onto the ledge and with his momentum jumped off the building. Arsinian’s brow furrowed while his mouth opened in shock as he witnessed the messenger jump. The messenger held his breathe like one jumping into the ocean from a ship as he helplessly descended downward to the street. Arsinian hurried over to the ledge, looked down and saw the man on a lower balcony on the next building. Mardok was already standing in the alley between these two buildings. “Get him!” he shouted to Arsinian.

The messenger struggled to his feet as he shook off the fall and went into the building. Arsinian jumped off the ledge down to the balcony, landing on his feet, while Mardok waited outside. The messenger made his way through the dwelling and into the hallway, but quickly sidestepped into another dwelling. He ran to the balcony and jumped on one of the giant tapestries, pulling it over the ledge with his momentum and slid down to the street. As he stepped away from the tapestry Mardok appeared from behind it, putting his hand on the messenger’s shoulder. The messenger unsheathed his dagger and pierced Mardok’s chest. Mardok struck the man in the face and then grabbed him and dragged him to a nearby alley. Mardok pulled the dagger out of his chest with a grimace. The wound immediately began to heal.

Arsinian leapt down from the balcony and quipped, “He was a shifty fellow.”

Mardok replied, “All that matters is that he is caught. If word of our plan was leaked then my plans for Athanasia would be thwarted forever.”

Arsinian walked up to the man who was on his hands and knees and kicked him in the stomach so hard that he flew up against the wall. He began coughing when Mardok grabbed him by the hair and said, “What were you doing in my quarters? How much did you hear?”

The messenger was able to blurt out between breaths, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” He took another breath and continued, “I was sent by the King to request your presence on the preparations for the journey to Methos.”

Mardok replied, “We know you heard something, mortal. Speak up and tell me what you heard, messenger to the king!”

Arsinian drew his sword and put it up against the messenger’s neck. The exhausted messenger was now catching his breath, but realizing that his end was near. He smirked, “You will never get away with usurping the throne of your king!”

Mardok smirked back and replied, “Arsinian, it looks as if we found a fellow conspirator that will be implicated with Romus in the insurrection that we have uncovered.”

Arsinian replied, “However, I think he is one of the rebels that was killed when we uncovered the plot.”

Mardok responded, “Yes, unfortunately, he was the only one that was killed.”

The messenger shouted, “Treachery! King Argos will uncover your plot!”

The messenger then screamed hoping that someone would hear his cry, “Help! These men are seeking to usurp the King’s throne!”

Mardok unsheathed his sword and ran it through the messenger, silencing him forever. Mardok then looked over to Arsinian. “My plan to take King Argos’ throne must start now. Find Romus and tell him to implicate King Argos’ messenger when you bring him into the throne room. I will bring this mortal’s body to the castle.”

Arsinian nodded, turned and made haste to find Romus. As he made his way out of the alley he walked by some curious passers-by who witnessed the chase and heard the scream. One asked, “What is happening?”

Arsinian turned and said, “We have uncovered a plot to murder the king and now we must move quickly before these rebels carry out their plan. Please, move out of my way. It is urgent that I warn the king!”

Arsinian darted out of the alley while the people quickly moved out of his way so that he could warn the king and thwart this assassination. Mardok picked up the body and hung him over his shoulder as he carried it out of the alley and headed towards the royal palace.

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